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Tromsø taking Norway by storm

Published: Tuesday 11 May 2010, 10.06CET
The most northerly top-flight team in Europe, Tromsø IL have climbed to the top of the Norwegian table under Per-Mathias Høgmo despite losing their defensive linchpin in the winter.
by Eivind Aarre
from Stavanger
Tromsø taking Norway by storm
Tromsø line up at the start of the 2009 season ©Tromsø IL
Published: Tuesday 11 May 2010, 10.06CET

Tromsø taking Norway by storm

The most northerly top-flight team in Europe, Tromsø IL have climbed to the top of the Norwegian table under Per-Mathias Høgmo despite losing their defensive linchpin in the winter.

Tromsø IL have seized control at the top of the Norwegian table but left-back Hans Åge Yndestad said: "We will not fall into the trap of believing that we are better than we are."

After 11 rounds Tromsø – whose home town is 350km inside the Arctic circle – hold a five-point lead over Rosenborg BK at the top of the table. While the Trondheim outfit have had their problems in front of goal, Per-Mathias Høgmo's Tromsø side have hardly been prolific themselves but have extracted maximum value from their 14 goals, conceding just six all season with four of their eight victories coming by a 1-0 scoreline.

Coach of the northernmost top-flight team in Europe, despite those statistics the 50-year-old Høgmo insists Tromsø like to play positive football, saying of their recent 1-0 win against IK Start: "It must have been one of the most entertaining games of the round. We created chance after chance with brilliant attacking play."

Twice a Tromsø player, Høgmo said his side's bright start was "an outstanding achievement", especially given the changes he was forced to make over the winter. After finishing sixth last season, the club lost their defensive linchpin Tore Reginiussen to FC Schalke 04, but they have recovered well.

Swedish defender Fredrik Björck has fitted well into central defence, while experienced striker Sigurd Rushfeldt – now 37 – has shown that he still knows where the net is. In goal, Bosnian Sead Ramović has attracted interest from abroad, along with central midfielder Ruben Yttergård Jenssen, who at 22 is being tipped for a fine career.

Høgmo feels that a mixture of wily old heads and willing young bodies has been the key to keeping Tromsø competitive. "The young players are rotated to keep them hungry for more," said the coach, who previously led Rosenborg and the women's national team. "The experienced players are valuable in tight situations."

There have been plenty of those so far, with Hans Åge Yndestad's late goal against Start at the weekend Tromsø's third last-gasp winner of the season. "This team is mentally strong," said Høgmo. "We have won with late goals, turned matches and held on for wins against good teams. These challenges have been passed with flying colours."

However, it will be a while before the two-time Norwegian Cup winners are prepared to countenance a serious challenge for a first title. "We don't talk about medals," said Yndestad. "We will not fall into the trap of believing we are better than we are. We know only hard work will give us the points we need."

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